Stuck for a word, Scrabble fans? Try ‘thang’ for nine points. Or how bout ‘grrl’? (five points). Failing that, there’s always ‘innit’, innit? (five points.)

It’s the list competitive Scrabble players world wide study with near-religious fanaticism. Nearly three-thousand new words have been included in the latest edition of Collins Official Scrabble Words — the official list of around a quarter of a million words for tournament and home Scrabble play around the world — and slang terms like ‘thang’ have made the cut.

Web 2.0 words ‘Facebook’ (19 points) and ‘MySpace’ (16 points) are also on the list, which publishers say is the ‘”most comprehensive Scrabble wordlist ever produced'”.

Mark Smith, president of the Australian Scrabble Players Association’s NSW arm, reckons the updated list is “one for the purists” and will eventually make the crossword-based game a bit easier to play. He’s been playing competitive Scrabble for about ten years but isn’t paying too much attention to the list just yet. He says competitive Scrabble players need to maintain a clear mental list of playable words.

“One of the things Scrabble players hate the most is unlearning words, once you’ve got a word in your consciousness you want to be able to play it,” he told Crikey. “Some of these new words are not quite valid yet. If I try and play ‘blingy’ [from the word ‘bling’, meaning flashy, 12 points] before the new list comes in I would lose my turn,” he said.

As a state president, Mark is part of the national committee set to decide when the updated list of words are valid for local tournament play. He thinks the Australian Scrabble dictionary will come into line with the new Collins manifesto on January 1, well after the tiles have settled on this year’s world championships at the Hilton Hotel in Warsaw, Poland.

The new list come just months after Scrabble makers Mattel announced they were changing the rules to allow proper nouns to be used in the game for the first time. Mark says these rules do not apply to tournament play in Australia and were a way of making it easier for casual players.

The most important words to learn first are the shorter words, says Mark. New word ‘wu’ (a Chinese language, five points) is vital, he says, because U is a tough letter to use when coupled with a W. It will also be crucial for serious players to become familiar with any new words containing high-scoring letters like J, Q, X and K.

“It will be difficult in the first place to learn these new words and it will mean there is a bit of a strategy adjustment players have to make,” he says. “But once they’re in play it means there are more choices for players.”

Some of the other words being endorsed by Collins include ‘blook’ (an online book, 11 points), ‘webzine’ (an online magazine, 21 points), as well as ‘tik’, ‘tina’ and ‘gak’ (drug slang, seven, four and eight points respectively). Another word which will gather attention is ‘qin’ (a Chinese zither, 12 points), which will become one of the few words to allow a high-scoring Q to be employed without a U.

Mark works in IT, where a lot of unplayable words and terms get stuck in his head —  “for years they didn’t allow internet, because it had a capital I” — and is happy when obscure jargon he knows well gets introduced. He’ll soon be boning up for next year’s national championships in Hobart, after Chris May took home last month’s title held in Canberra.

“I think tournament players will start studying the list around December, just before it comes into effect,” he says. “By this time next year I may not be au fait with all the words on the list, but I definitely will be au fait with all the short words and words with high scoring tiles.”

Some of the new words included in the latest edition of Collins Official Scrabble Words:

ALOO: potato (4 points)
BLINGY: from the word ‘bling’, meaning flashy (12 points)
BLOOK: an online book (11 points)
BREDREN: brother (10 points)
DARKNET: software and servers used to distribute files (12 points)
FACEBOOK: social media website (19 points)
FIQH: an expansion of Islamic sharia law (19 points)
GOBI: cauliflower (7 points)
GRRL: a woman with attitude (5 points)
INBOX: email folder for incoming mail (14 points)
INNIT: short for “isn’t it?” (5 points)
MYSPACE: social media website (16 points)
NANG: cool (5 points)
PUNAANY: female genitals (12 points)
QIN: a Chinese zither (12 points)
THANG: slang word for thing (9 points)
TIK, TINA, GAK: drug slang (7 points, 4 points, 8 points)
TWIGLET: wheat snack (11 points)
VLOG: video blogging (8 points)
WAGYU: a breed of cattle (12 points)
WEBZINE: online magazine (21 points)
WIKI: form of online publication (11 points)

Peter Fray

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